Teaching for Racial Justice
“When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.”
-- Audre Lorde, A Litany for Survival
Anti-racist protests have expanded across the globe in response to the death of George Floyd and countless other People of Color at the hands of the police. The country’s entrenched history of institutionalized racism plays a role in each of our everyday lives.
Conversations around police brutality and racialized violence are likely to enter our classes. The Drake Institute for Teaching and Learning is committed to supporting instructors in anti-racist pedagogies as emotions and experiences around these events enter class interactions.
Below is a handful of resources and guidelines to help teachers productively navigate these conversations in their courses. As always, consultants are available to work with you and/or your department to address these issues, and any other issues that may be shaping the teaching and learning environment in which we collectively strive for inclusive excellence.
Address problematic remarks in class
Rather than ignoring them, take time to address when a student or students have made a problematic remark. Doing so will model accountable behavior to students and helps avoid responsibility for correcting the remark falling on minoritized students’ shoulders.
Call In rather than Call Out
Calling out is an act of pointing out that another person is participating in an oppressive action. In contrast, Calling in is a deliberately compassionate practice of pulling folks back in when they stray from the group.
Make boundaries clear to students ahead of conversation
Build up to potentially challenging conversations by clarifying language and etiquette with your students. Consider creating a classroom contract and/or discussion guidelines with students to guide them through these discussions.
Redirect rather than challenge comments
Pull the positive intentions out of what might be well-meaning but awkwardly worded comments. Help students to rephrase their statements more respectfully.
Focus on group and community learning
Rather than confronting an individual student for their comments, turn the focus to group and community accountability. Remind students of any classroom commitments or guidelines they have agreed to, and to be respectful to others present.
For more guidance on handling difficult discussions in class, sign up for upcoming Calling In workshop (I can schedule this so there can be a link here).
Further resources on difficult dialogues:
- Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching, “Difficult Dialogues.”
- Michigan Center for Research on Teaching and Learning, “Responding to Difficult Moments”
- Attacking Ideas, Not People: Using Structured Controversy in the College Classroom (1996. Toward the Best in the Academy 7.7)
Anti-racist teaching strategies:
- Duquesne Center for Teaching Excellence, “Pedagogy and Micro-Resistance: A Strategy for the College Classroom”
- Showing Up For Racial Justice’s educational toolkits
- Zinn Education Project’s teaching materials
- Teaching Tolerance’s toolkit for Teaching at the Intersections”
- Luther College’s Intersectionality Toolkit”
- Boise State’s Racial Equity Teaching Tools
Anti-racist texts and viewings:
- Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins
- Mapping Our Social Change Roles in Times of Crisis
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, PhD
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
- Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
- 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
- Rachel Ricketts’ anti-racism resources
- "How Studying Privilege Systems Can Strengthen Compassion" | Peggy McIntosh at TEDxTimberlaneSchools (18:26)
- Resources for White People to Learn and Talk About Race and Racism
- "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh
- The Combahee River Collective Statement by the Combahee River Collective